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Chelan County Lodging Tax Awards Saddle by Dwindling Collections

(News Item #0464, Published: 04/23/24, Author: Jason Taylor, KPQ AM)

Chelan County is considering a rollback of lodging tax grants because of diminishing tax collections.
Collections for capital projects grants this year came up $90,000 short of what was originally allocated.
County Commissioner Tiffany Gering heads the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
She told fellow commissioners Monday that they're looking to award lodging tax grants on a semi-annual basis moving forward instead of every year.
"If the trend continues downward, or if it should plateau, we think that we should do the capital applications every other year, so we are having enough money," said Gering.
The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee was looking to allocate $420,000 in capital projects grants, but only $330,000 was collected for the current cycle.
Gering said the county is losing out to cities such as Wenatchee, where new hotels tend to be built.
"When you look at the cities, all of the cities are continuing to increase, while the county is decreasing," Gering said.
Annexation has also played a factor. It was pointed out during Monday’s County commissioners meeting that the Comfort Inn in Olds Station was originally part of the county when it was built in 2010.
It’s estimated the county lost $100,000 in lodging tax money from the hotel when Wenatchee annexed Olds Station into the city in 2016.
The change would not affect lodging tax grants to tourist-related organizations, which would still be handed out annually.
Commissioners on Monday adopted the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommendations for the upcoming round of capital projects lodging tax grants.
Gering said projects that are being funded are focused on outdoor recreation. She said a lot of the projects have to do with trails – improving trails, creating new trails, and making sure there’s adequate parking and restrooms at the trails.
Gering also noted the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee was advising tapping into $150,000 in reserve funds to the upcoming round of grants
Capital projects lodging tax grants are only available to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations or municipalities.